Seinfeld’s System(s) for Success


While it’s not specifically about music, this episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast, where Tim interviews Jerry Seinfeld, is incredibly relevant to musicians.

Jerry Seinfeld has talked about the importance of consistency and creating systems for his (and all) creative work before, but this interview is a nice distallation of lots of good, actionable advice.

The Process is the Goal

There was a lot in this episode that I wanted to write about, but it eventually became almost an episode transcription.

To whet your appetite, I decided to include a few relevant nuggets, but I highly encourage you to listen to the complete interview if you’re in the need for some ideas or motivation.

Some of the topics and ideas include:

Creating an environment for Deep Work

I still have a writing session every day. It’s another thing that organizes your mind. The coffee goes here. The pad goes here. The notes go here. My writing technique is just: You can’t do anything else. You don’t have to write, but you can’t do anything else.

How to tackle progressive improvement on an idea

From the stage, the audience…just dumps a bunch of data on you, of, “This is good, this is okay, this is very good, this is terrible.”…Then it’s back through the rewrite process and then new ideas will come.

The challenges of being in a creative field

When you have a creative gift, it’s like someone just gave you a horse…They just put you on it. And you either learn to ride this thing, or it’s going to kill you.

Introducing people to the idea of Deep Work

Let’s come up with something you can do. That’s where you start everything. That’s how you start to build a system…You have to have an end-time to your writing session. If you’re going to sit down at a desk with a problem and do nothing else, you’ve got to get a reward for that. And the reward is, the alarm goes off, and you’re done.

Learning about the difference between the mind and the brain

The mind is infinite in wisdom. The brain is a stupid, little dog that is easily trained.Do not confuse the mind with the brain. The brain is so easy to master. You just have to confine it. You confine it. And it’s done through repetition and systematization.

Being kind to yourself while striving for improvement

The key to writing…is to treat yourself like a baby, very extremely nurturing and loving, and then switch over to Lou Gossett in Officer and a Gentleman and just be a harsh prick, a ball-busting son of a bitch, about, “That is just not good enough.”

Using negative experiences as a path forward

She said to me, “I’m the kind of person that needs to get stepped on, and that’s what you need. You need someone to step on you, and I’m going to be that person.”…I would say I was a three day a week guy in terms of my writing discipline in those days. And I went from three days a week to seven right there…I was angry. I was frustrated. I was resentful. But I used that…[W]hen someone is that hostile to you, that can be a very good thing if you’re tough, if you’re tough enough to eat that shit and say, “She’s not stopping me.”

If you’re looking for a bit of motivation to get out of the pandemic funk, this interview may provide a little push in the right direction!

Happy listening!


About Colin Dorman

Colin is a freelance horn player and teacher, as well as a fan of tech of all sorts, aviation, and increasingly complex flight simulators. He also enjoys beer, bourbon and fitness - but not at the same time. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, as well as right here at ColinDorman.com!